Emotional Labour: Its Effect on Work Performance

Tulika Borah *

Department of Human Development and Family Studies, College of Community Science, Assam Agricultural University, Assam, India.

Jinamoni Saikia

Department of Human Development and Family Studies, College of Community Science, Assam Agricultural University, Assam, India.

Arifa Mumtaz Begum

Directorate of Extension Education, Assam Agricultural University, Assam, India.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


The previous two decades of the 20th century has witnessed a dynamic change in the distribution of employment that has shifted from agriculture and industry to the service sector. With the rise of the service sector, more numbers of employees are involved in direct contact with the client and in such occupations, the job demands expression of appropriate emotions during the interaction. Concomitant with this transition a relatively new labour market has been created, which is marked by work roles that focus on direct communication between service workers and customers. Many a times the front-line service workers have to regulate their emotions in jobs so as to appear professional, even when during unpleasant situations. This new type of labour which has emerged from the work demand is termed as ‘Emotional labour’. Emotional labour is not confined tocustomer service workers, it can be challenging for most of us, because it is not easy to hide true emotions and display emotions required in work place. Organizational expectation of emotional expression by employees at work place leads to emotional labour. Arlie Hochschild (1983) was the first sociologist to distinctively point out the management and display of emotions by workers as part of their work role. She defined emotional labour as the management of emotions in order to bring out visible facial and bodily display. Hochschild asserted that emotional labour is a stressor that maybe harmful for the psychological and physical well-being of employees. Her findings suggested that the need to manage emotions in work place may bring in contradiction between the emotions an employee feels and the emotions he/she has to display while working with customers. This discrepancy between required and true emotions is referred to as ‘Emotional dissonance’. The more the conflict between the required and true emotions, the more employees tend to experience stress, job burnout, and psychological alienation from self. Hochschild proposed two different approaches to reduce emotional dissonance, which are surface acting (outward behavior) and deep acting (inner feelings). As the emotional state of employees is directly related to work performance, management of factors causing emotional labor is an important aspect at work environment.

Keywords: Emotions, emotional labour, emotional dissonance, job performance

How to Cite

Borah, Tulika, Jinamoni Saikia, and Arifa Mumtaz Begum. 2024. “Emotional Labour: Its Effect on Work Performance”. Asian Journal of Agricultural Extension, Economics & Sociology 42 (6):284-92. https://doi.org/10.9734/ajaees/2024/v42i62491.


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